Alexis Pugh named as Memphis Animal Services director - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Alexis Pugh named as Memphis Animal Services director

Mayor Strickland introduces Alexis Pugh as MAS Director. (Source: WMC Action News 5) Mayor Strickland introduces Alexis Pugh as MAS Director. (Source: WMC Action News 5)

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland named a new director for Memphis Animal Services.

Strickland announced Friday that Alexis Pugh will start as MAS director in June.

After years and years of reported abuse and countless other problems at Memphis Animal Services, Strickland tapped Pugh to take the position with the hopes MAS will take a new direction. Pugh said real change takes time, but her number one priority is to drastically increase the number of animals that walk out the doors alive.

"I believe firmly in the humane treatment of all living things, which is an attitude I plan to bring here to Memphis Animal Services," Pugh said. 

Pugh served as executive director for Mid-South Spay and Neuter services for the past year. She’s also worked as a reporter for a Memphis television station and in the communication department for the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County.

Strickland set strict priorities, which include getting more stray and dangerous animals off the streets, increasing spay and neutering in Memphis, and increasing the live release rate.

"In 2009 the live release rate was only 18 percent. Now, it's over 60 percent," Strickland said.

Pugh agrees, and she has goals already in mind.

"If we can get that rate to 75, 80, 85 percent, I think those are numbers I've seen at other municipal shelters that are reasonable," Pugh said.

Sylvia Cox is part of a watchdog group called Save Our Shelter Memphis that has been demanding change at MAS. She sees Pugh as the change she's been waiting for.

"She has a lot of good experience and she's local," Cox said. "That gives her perspective. She understands the history of MAS and what's happened in the past."

With 51 employees at MAS, Pugh said accountability will be important for everyone, especially after the history of abuse and clerical errors leading to dead animals.

"I think it's very important that people don't expect change overnight," Pugh said. "I think meaningful change takes time, and we have to do it the right way."

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